The magic of March Madness in college basketball is very much a result of big-time upsets fueled by smaller schools taking down top programs with high seeds. The Cinderella stories that sometimes come from such a tournament setup are unmatched in the sports world.
March is GREAT. You're not allowed to hate it, so any attempt to do so is futile.
So why not create some of that madness in college football?
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Earlier, we showed you what a playoff bracket would look like if 6, 8, 12 or 16 teams were in it, based on the latest College Football Playoff Rankings. The UCF Golden Knights came in at No. 18, and as of today, would be left out of any extended scenario. The chances that remains the case, however, are slim, and the Top 10 is not out of the question.
The Knights are very likely to win out:
On the road Temple will not be easy, neither will South Florida to finish, but UCF will be favored in all three. Assuming they do win out and end the season unbeaten, they're very likely to be ranked in the Top 12
Of the 17 teams ranked ahead of them, at least six of them will undoubtedly garner a loss between now and the end of the season, thanks to head-to-head matchups, including projected conference championship projections.
Georgia: @Auburn — SEC vs. Alabama
Alabama: @ Mississippi State, @ Auburn — SEC vs. Georgia
Notre Dame: @Miami
Clemson: ACC vs. Miami
Oklahoma: TCU, Bog 12 vs.
TCU: @Oklahoma — Big 12 vs. Oklahoma
Miami: Notre Dame — ACC vs. Clemson
Wisconsin: Big Ten vs. Ohio St./Michigan St./Penn State
Washington: Pac-12 vs. USC
Auburn: Georgia, Alabama
USC: Pac-12 vs. Washington
Michigan St.: @Ohio St. — Big Ten vs. Wisconsin
Ohio St.: Michigan St. — Big Ten vs. Wisconsin
Penn St.: Big Ten vs. Wisconsin
Oklahoma St.: Big 12 vs. Oklahoma/TCU
Mississippi St.: Alabama
Central Florida, or another Group of 5 school running the table — Western Michigan, Boise State — getting into the tournament is the closest thing to an early-round run by a Horizon League school in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
A non-Power 5/Independent has not finished in the Top 4 of a final poll since Utah finished at No. 2 in the AP Top 25 and No. 4 in the Coaches Poll in 2008 and Boise State ended the season at No. 4 in both the AP and Coaches final rankings in 2009. As a result, the only way to introduce some March Madness to the football season is to expand the playoff. And not to eight, to 12.
Only once in the last 10 years has a non-Power 5/Independent landed in the Top 8 in pre-bowl/playoff rankings– Houston in 2015. But an additional two finished in the Top 12 in 2009 (Boise State, Cincinnati), two in 2010 (Boise State, Nevada), Another in 2011 (Boise State) and 2012 (UCF), and 2016 (Western Michigan).
Want to create a Middle Tennessee over Michigan State (2016, NCAA First Round) scenario and excitement? How about Stephen F. Austin or West Virginia? Weber State over North Carolina (1999)? Richmond over Syracuse (1991)? Cleveland State over Indiana (1986)? Maybe
Florida Gulf Coast's run to the Sweet 16 in 2013, anyone? George Mason in 2006? VCU in 2011? Won't get any of that in college football until the field is expanded to at least 12. Skip eight, get to 12, hand out four byes, copy the NFL and stop pretending just because if it aint broke it can't be fixed.